Singaporeans generally would welcome the announcement that about 8,000 households in Housing Board (HDB) flats will get the chance to help shape their living environment. This will be done through the board's latest Sample Household Survey (SHS). The gathering of feedback is not new. Since its inception in 1968, the five-yearly survey has sought to garner HDB dwellers' views and measure their satisfaction with living in public housing. The SHS is a national exercise, given the geography of public housing. More than one million flats, spread across 23 towns and three estates, are home to more than 80 per cent of Singapore's resident population, of which about 90 per cent own their homes.
Previous SHS findings helped to shape the public housing environment, ranging from the design of new flats to measures that have enabled families to live closer. The surveys provide a running commentary on how Singaporeans have responded to a housing revolution that transformed the city-state from habitation to home. Thus, the SHS focused on large-scale resettlement in high-rise living in the 1960s and 1970s, the greatest break with the geographical past ever. Once the horizontal gave way irrevocably to the vertical, residents were queried on their degree of satisfaction with their new living environment in the 1980s and 1990s.